January 24, 2007

The victimization of Lisa Blakemore Brown

Up until today the 10 year abuse of this clinical psychologist has been shrouded in secrecy. The evolving story is likely to have many implications. It has to do with the use of mental health diagnosis to suppress dissent. It also raises the problem of academic freedom issues that arise outside of universities.

This blog is about the distortion of scientific debate, most particularly by
powerful forces in medicine. It is about the way in which industry, professional bodies, government regulators and powerful individuals collude to prevent scientific debate and to victimize those asking difficult questions (www.nhsexposed.com). It is about the way those entrusted with authority behave.

I have been contacted by many individuals who have found themselves in difficulty. Some of these stories are urgent enough for me to want take a break from my most interesting correspondence with Dr Larry Games Vice President at Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals.

One such case is that of the psychologist Lisa Blakemore Brown, a specialist in Autism, ADHD & Aspergers [website] [Book]. Blakemore Brown has been involved on the "wrong side" of the debate about the psychiatric disorder Munchausen syndrome by proxy (MSbP), maintaining that many parents have been falsely accused of injuring their children. There have been high-profile releases from jail of women such as Angela Canning.

MSbP is a disorder in which an adult invents or deliberately creates a child’s illness to draw attention to themselves. She has challenged prominent doctors such as Sir Roy Meadow and Professor David Southall who, in her view, have promulgated a wholly inappropriate approach to scientific evidence. She has irritated pharmaceutical companies. But instead of debate Lisa has encountered its very opposite. The abuse of science goes right into the heart of a prominent professional body. Her colleagues have stood by in silence.

I have no special knowledge of the science that underpins the debate surrounding autism, MSbP or vaccine side effects. But I do know that debate is important. It is the lifeblood of science. I will be discussing much more of this tragic case over the next few weeks. It is not only a tragedy for Blakemore Brown, but also part of the tragedy of medicine.

For now I simply place in the public domain a letter written this week by John Stone and myself to the British Psychological Society. It speaks for itself.
Ray Miller, President,
The British Psychological Society
St Andrews House
48 Princess Road East
Leicester LE1 7DR 14 January 2007

Re: Lisa Blakemore Brown

Dear Mr Miller,

We are writing to express our concern regarding the treatment of Lisa Blakemore-Brown (LBB) by the British Psychological Society. The actions of the Society are such as to cast serious doubts upon its motives as well as upon its plausibility as a professional regulatory body.

It is disturbing that the Society appears to be acting to suppress open debate about controversial theories. Our purpose here is not to get involved in this debate, nor do we necessarily agree with her views. Ms Blakemore-Brown's views are in fact irrelevant. She is entitled to hold any views and to express these, no matter how uncomfortable they are to yourselves. This is enshrined by Article 10 of the Human Rights Act 1998. It seems that the Society have developed an unhealthy obsession with preventing free speech through abuse of mental health diagnosis. Its actions may also be construed as a breach of the Harassment Act 1997.

It cannot be in the interests of society, human rights, patients and of the British Psychological Society to suppress open debate and academic freedom through such mechanisms. The society seems to have encouraged an endless series of unsupportable complaints against LBB, and then progressed them despite evidence that they were not sustainable. The society itself then generated an entirely different complaint (about her irritated response to these very complaints). This is not a proper example for resolving scientific or academic disputes. It appears to be more a method of silencing a critic.

Irritation with a professional body is not in any event an offence. Neither is annoying a professional body. Disagreement with the professional "view" is not a reason to refer an individual for psychiatric assessment except in a Stalinist state. This approach of the BPS is wholly anti-academic and unprofessional. To quote Kingsley Amis "If you can't annoy someone, there's little point in writing". It is also not a prime facie offence to perceive oneself to have been bullied, as the BPS seem to be suggesting.

Having read the case transcripts, we must confess that we find them most extraordinary. The transcript of the first three days of the Fitness to Practice hearing July 2006 reads like an encyclopaedia of legal and psychological abuse. If LBB has responded with irritation, this would seem to be understandable.
  • Lisa had been coerced into "hearings" despite having left the society years before. The main charge was modified progressively until it bore no relation to the flawed original charge. The modified "charge" of supposed mental illness (so called "paranoia") was not revealed to Lisa for months after the process had been set in motion.

  • Evidence was assembled by the panel as if having been provided by Lisa herself, and presented to others in a jumbled order and without context to suggest mental incoherence in her correspondence with the BPS (a supposed offence).

  • In one instance it emerged that the material was forged. Despite that, the original complainants were not invited to be cross-examined, and no action was taken against them after the information was dropped.

  • An independent psychiatric report declaring LBB perfectly lucid, quite normal and fit to practice was rejected, and others were requested instead. This is a rather interesting approach for a "psychological society" towards the reliability of such reports. This interesting approach of the BPS appears to be on the basis of the findings of the reports themselves rather than upon the methodology used (since the panel seemed quite happy to consider an assessment based only on LBB's correspondence with the BPS complaining about her treatment, compiled without seeing "the patient" and without any relevance whatever to her clinical practice). More convincing evidence supporting justifiable paranoia and predetermination would be hard to find.

  • A psychiatrist declared Lisa to be unfit to practice with the diagnosis of "paranoia" without examining her, and on the basis of material constructively assembled by the committee. Having read the transcript relating to this material we find this "diagnosis" intriguing, and wonder whether a majority (or even any) other psychiatrists or members of the public would reach such a conclusion based on the same information if we were to provide it to them. In any event the material bears no apparent relation to her practice, only to her views about the suppression of scientific debate.
The society has acted callously over a sustained period seeking to undermine and silence Ms Blakemore Brown, despite her unfortunate family circumstances. It has used the practice of psychiatry and psychological assessment in a non-evidence-based way as a tool for destruction. It cannot improve the reputation of the society to be seen to act in such an arbitrary way using its own tools of trade.

The society must bring this charade to an end before any more damage is done, both to society itself and to the chances of proper public discourse in an atmosphere that is free from fear.

  1. We would appreciate the views of the society before taking this matter forward in terms of public discussion.
  2. We are unable to find any list of the psychological traits that would render an individual unfit to practice and would appreciate a copy of the same. If supposed "paranoia" or "irritation with the BPS" is on such a list, perhaps bullying should also be added.
  3. In addition we would also request that the society provide what scientific evidence it has in relation to the, indications for psychiatric assessment in such cases, as well as the reproducibility and plausibility of such reports.
  4. So bizarre are the case transcripts, we believe that open discussion is required. We intend to publish these in full, with appropriate commentary as part of a campaign to prevent such behaviour by professional regulatory bodies. If the society can see any reason such publication should not take place, we would appreciate it if you would let us know those reasons.
Yours sincerely,

Mr John Stone

Dr Aubrey Blumsohn
From: Scientific Misconduct Blog: The victimization of Lisa Blakemore Brown


Anonymous said...

it seems mob tactics haven't changed much from the barabaric past

insanity claims! I watched this in a Mexican sitcom.

Anonymous said...

The silent witnesses watch.

Why do you watch?

Workplace bullying is not a spectator sport.

Bullies need your help.

Don't stand and watch bullies as they creep around being bullies.

Take them aside and tell them to STOP the bullying.

Just try it and see what happens....

Anonymous said...

there's no evidence any complaint is about her beliefs, it's about her professionalism or lack of it. She diagnoses anything that moves as autistic (or 'indigo children') be sure you're happy to support a lady who thinks it's OK to diagnose people as Aliens and vaccine damaged when she's not an accepted expert in either field. Nobody disputes Vaccine damage exists. Scientology may support the Alien theory too, but when it's parents she purports to help whom bring these comlaints, it's not the professional body or her beliefs, it's her competence as a professional to remain impartial and helpful that counts. She is no victim and quite capable of fighting her own corner, although the 'poor me' act can work on some when implemented by malicious females.

Anonymous said...

I hate for this discussion to take this route.

The reference to the sitcom is only to illustrate how rediculous the insanity plot is. It does not imply nor does it condone watching bullying from the sidelines.

As for bullies, NO, one should not take them aside and tell them to stop. These are not school children. They are adults with malicious intents and very advanced destructive capabilities. One bugs them and then exposes them.

I was subjected to bullying, I know how smart these over ambitious people are. The effects of their behaviour last a lifetime. An intelligent approach is needed.

Anonymous said...

I hate for this discussion to take this route.

The reference to the sitcom is only to illustrate how rediculous the insanity plot is. It does not imply nor does it condone watching bullying from the sidelines.

As for bullies, NO, one should not take them aside and tell them to stop. These are not school children. They are adults with malicious intents and very advanced destructive capabilities. One bugs them and then exposes them.

I was subjected to bullying, I know how smart these over ambitious people are. The effects of their behaviour last a lifetime. An intelligent approach is needed.

Anonymous said...

Why is Michael Pyshnov prohibited from visiting the Library?


Anonymous said...

The right of a professional body to discipline its members is unquestionable. In medicine or engineering there is also a responsibility to enforce professionalism on non-members using the title.

But that enforcement must be transparent, accountable and fair. If the issue here is lack of professionalism, then the process is undermined by the (mis)conduct of the professional body.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 6:07 pm gives an excellent example of the bullying mentality,
a) that of avoiding the actual issue of the right of freedom to question established science and
b) how to discredit an individual -in this case using a good sprinkling of malice.

Getting back to the case of freedom to question the status quo, I personally believe that the only way our understanding of science evolves is by continually questioning it. For instance, had no-one questioned the science of physics, we would still believe that the earth was a flat disk standing on pillars.

Questions should lead to debate from all sides and from that debate we learn what theories might be right or wrong / beneficial or harmful, at any 'present time', from that how to advance on the positives and disgard the negatives - and presumably this is the natural progression to taking another step up the ladder of understanding.

Everyone has a RIGHT to question, and a RIGHT to search for answers, we were born with that facility built in as part of our survival instinct. That includes Lisa Blakemore Brown.

Anonymous said...

There is something very wrong in institutions that work hard to silence questioning or criticism by diagnosing those critics as mentally ill or firing them. It certainly gives an impression that they have something they desperately wish to remain hidden.

Those engaging in such tactics make a mockery of science and their own institution, abuse their position of power, cause unnecessary suffering to the critic/questioner and intimidate other members so silencing those too.

It is cruel, unethical, unscientic, just plain WRONG, and needs to be exposed.

Aubrey Blumsohn said...

Dear Anonymous at 6:07

I have had the priviledge of reading all of the case documents and all of the transcripts of this fitness to practice "enquiry". I can assure you that none of the allegations have anything whatever to do with Lisa's diagnostic skills, her professionalism in terms of patient care, her competence as a professional, vaccine damage, Aliens or anything of the sort. The transcripts are quite simply appalling. The British Psychological Society is naturally not very keen on the idea that they should be made public.

I for one have no particular axe to grind in terms of the debate about any of these issues apart from the concern that there isn't any semblance of proper debate.

I am perfectly aware that the concept of ADHD/autism as a diagnosis causes blood to boil in many people, even more so the inappropriate drug treatment of such patients which Lisa appears to oppose.

And for anyone who wondered where how the Aliens fit it (your comment) - they come from this excellent book

Amazon book link - through the eyes of aliens

book link

Incidentally if you call losing your home, your entire career, and having your daughter suffer brain haemorrhages through the sort of ill informed diatribes you choose to post anonymously a "poor me" response, you really need to think again about simple human values.

I hang my head in shame.

Aubrey Blumsohn

Anonymous said...

Lisa was spot on with the help she gave to my children.
She was one of the very few people who helped fit my children's Statements of Educational Needs to fit the children and not use the children to fit the Statement as many LEA's do to save money.
Lisa's book should be read by everyone dealing in Autism. They might learn something.
Lisa is not the only one attacked for her views. I know of two other doctors attacked in the same way for the same views.
All these people are all independent of each other.
How many more?
I have spoken to many professionals with the same views and in time they too will have the guts to speak out.
"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."
- Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)


x said...

I believe this is one of the complainants against Lisa Blakemore Brown


BMJ 2002;324:693 ( 23 March )

Woman at centre of Southall case faces prison sentence
Caroline White, London

Robert Freeth, Sunderland

The woman who instigated complaints against consultant paediatrician Professor David Southall, which ended in his suspension from clinical practice for two years, is facing a "substantial" prison sentence.

Penny Mellor, who campaigns on behalf of parents who claim to be wrongly accused of child abuse, was convicted last month at Newcastle upon Tyne Crown Court of plotting to hide a child from police and social services.

A family from Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, who feared that their 9 year old daughter was about to be taken into care, contacted Mrs Mellor.

The family's fears were groundless, the court heard, although doctors had diagnosed fabricated or induced illness, formerly known as Munchausen syndrome by proxy. At Mrs Mellor's behest, the child and her grandmother travelled to Mrs Mellor's home in Wolverhampton. Mrs Mellor put them in touch with a Scotsman, Stuart Carnie, with whom they subsequently went on the run for four weeks to Ireland and Scotland, the court heard.

The parents, grandmother, and Mr Carnie later admitted conspiracy to abduct a child. The family members were jailed for between six and nine months each last year. Mr Carnie failed to turn up for sentencing and is still being sought by police.

Judge Guy Whitburn QC granted Mellor bail pending the preparation of a pre-sentence report, but told her: "You would be wise to use this time to prepare for a substantial prison sentence."

Mrs Mellor was credited with forcing Professor Southall's suspension from clinical duty at North Staffordshire Hospitals NHS Trust in November 1999 while the serious allegations she had made about him earlier that year were investigated. Although he has now been completely exonerated by the trust, the string of complaints she made about him to the General Medical Council are still being investigated.

These are my isssues with Penny Mellor
1. Yes, I know of her conversations with the GMC. She had one contact there.
2. I have absolutely no idea why this lady is believed.
3. We have to ask ourselves - who is Penny Mellor?
4. I believe her complaint against Lisa Blakemore Brown is unfounded.
5. I would like the BPS to confirm whether psychiatrists have examined the forensic history and mental state of the complainants in this case. I am happy to examine their mental state myself.
6. If Ms Mellor would like to print this out for the BPS, then I would be grateful if you would kindly respect my copyright.
7. It is important to understand that a protracted campaign against Lisa Blakemore Brown may possibly result in disclosure of important documents related to Ms Mellor. This is of course in the public's interest.

FAO Penny Mellor

By the way, give my regards to that odd journalist friend of yours Brian Morgan. Please let me know if he has written anything of journalistic importance.

Perhaps its important you leave the scientific analysis to doctors and scientists while you spend sometime studying and furthering your knowledge as opposed to getting on your bandwagon and thumping away aimlessly. That is what it seems like to me anyhow.

By the way, CRB checks should apply to complainants as well as doctors. It is a great shame you Penny are not subject to the same scrutiny as all of us.


Dr Rita Pal

Anonymous said...

To: The British Psychological Association

I am given to understand Ms Lisa Blakemore Brown is to appear before you on some disciplinary matter in connection with her views on the Munchausen Syndrome or similar matter

Having seen the work of Ms Lisa Blakemore Brown and consulted with her on her visit to Australia I wish to record I have great respect for the work she is doing in this area.

It may be recalled that since she visited Australia and spoke at a Conference in Sydney there has been a change in the Law in Queensland – no longer do the Courts recognize a diagnosis of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy and this will no doubt be copied in other Jurisdictions.

Ms Lisa Blakemore Brown is probably the only member of the British Psychological Society recognized world wide for her outstanding work on Autism. It would be shameful if any disciplinary action is taken against her for holding the views she does.

Academic freedom is the lifeblood of progress in Science.

Yours truly,

Michael D Innis MBBS; DTM&H; FRCPA; FRCPath

Anonymous said...

"From further documentary evidence I have received, these matters are becoming increasingly bizarre and Kafkaesque. It would appear that the BPS would be far wiser to abandon their witch-hunt of Lisa Blakemore-Brown and to investigate instead the credibility, credentials, and motives of her accusers. Evidence suggests that there is definite malice behind the complaints and there has been collusion and collaboration in seeking to defame and discredit Lisa.

The BPS would also be well advised to investigate the mental stability of her accusers, their criminal histories for offences of deceit and dishonesty, and their links with and support by corporate organisations. Such corporate organisations have very considerable vested financial interests to protect and have a history of silencing exposure of their misdeeds and of controlling academic freedom if such academic treatises were unfavourable to their corporate interests.

If the BPS decide to mount such an investigation into the malicious accusers of Lisa Blakemore-Brown, I shall be more than happy to provide them with the documentary evidence."

Charles Pragnell Dip.S.W., L.R.C.C.

Anonymous said...

I do not know anything about Lisa or this case - but I do know that if we had more people with the guts to speak out against the unacceptable behaviour that is bullying instead of hiding in the shadows this would make a cataclysmic difference to dealing with work place bullying...

.. but those silent witnesses skulk around...

Anonymous said...

Just to let you know that the very members of the Public whom the General Medical Council (GMC) fervently claims to be protecting - are currently rejecting the GMC 'en masse' at http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/AbolishGMC/.

Another related article on the matter appears here . . . and it also seems that a UK Political Party (with a profound Human Rights ethic)has also publicly endorsed the petition here !

Anonymous said...

Lisa Blakemore Brown has guts. What is at stake was obvious from watching TV last night. I have read the transcripts of the psychiatric report which is now available - shocking - shame and more shame on the BPS. Psychologists uysing psychology to bully. The British Psychological Society has also been involved in silence in the use of psychologists in torture in Iraq.

Anonymous said...

True to form, Dr Pal has turned on someone who previously supported both her and Lisa.

Join the ranks Dr Innis.